A/N: Eh, I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment.
Until tonight, she supposes, she was simply too tired to dream. Things are busy here now, even a year later. The Soul Society that had ground to a jarring stop the day of her execution is slowly beginning to move again, to lick its wounds, limp about on uncertain paws. It is beginning to thrive again, and she is in the mix of it with everyone else. And she is up for the work, no doubt.
In fact, she does little else, and as soon as her head hits the pillow her world goes dark and does not stir until the sun rises again and she is due at her post.
Until last night.
In her bare feet she moves slowly in the tall grass. She was keenly aware of her hair stirring in the breeze. She brushes a dark lock out of her eyes, peering in the twilight. She knows he's waiting for her in that space, feels his hunger as it sharpens her own. How long has it been since she felt like this? Her steady gait becomes a trot and then a run. The sun is fading; her blood is pounding with a strangely familiar urgency. If not now, never. She must see him. She must feel his skin under her palms, confirm the reality of him once and for all. Nothing else can draw her into these woods.
When she sees his tall, slight form she begins to run. She does not blink; doing that will give him an opportunity to disappear and she would have come all this way for nothing. The closer she comes to him, the heavier she grows, her legs becoming lead and her lungs burning. But he knows her all too well, and when he reaches his hand out to her she stretches to take it. And his fingers are his lips and as she closes her eyes she is breathing his breath, heady and thick. His spare hand weaves itself into her hair as his lips move lower, she is pushed back against something hard and feels him, just as hard, against her. She can even feel the steady thud of his heart against her shoulder, then lower as he lifts her. And his lips are on hers again and her hands are on his shoulders, gripping, digging her nails to the point of drawing blood. And then he gasps and chuckles, pulls himself away for just a moment to gaze at her. "So impatient," Gin says. His scarlet eyes are wide open to her. "Has it been that long?"
She blinks slowly, licks her lips. "It's been long enough." She pulls him back down to herself and lets go.
For just a moment, of course. The hazy alarm spreading through her hurls her up and out. She sits up in her bed, in her comfortable chamber in the thirteenth division compound, and it is still dark. There is knocking. "Kuchiki-fukutaichou," the voice comes through the screen. "There is an emergency."
The remnants of her dream evaporate around her. "I'm coming," she says, throwing back her blanket.
She dresses calmly and when she slides open her door the messenger is already on his knees, chin touching the floor. "I'm sorry to wake you, Kuchiki-dono, but there has been a hell butterfly. All officers are to assemble at the first squad headquarters as soon as possible."
"Has Ukitake-taichou been notified?"
"He sent the hell butterfly, sir."
She nods. "I understand. You may return to your post. Thank you." As she leaves the compound, the moon is still high but the horizon is already becoming violet with the coming dawn. It is rosy when she reaches the compound. Already most of the others are assembled, some grumbling, others excited. When she reaches Renji's side she notices the stubble and the dark circles first. "Have you even been to bed?"
He barely looks at her. "If you have a problem with my hours, Rukia-sama, take it up with your brother."
"What's this about?"
"Who knows? Knowing Kyoraku-taichou, they're going to announce he finally bagged Nanao."
Rukia chokes back a laugh as she sees Hitsugaya staring at them. He does not look pleased, as usual. She nods respectfully and stares forward.
After a short while, the two elder captains, fair and dark haired, emerge. The seriousness of their faces quiets the few people left making noise. Ukitake takes a deep breath, and his eyes search the faces until they find those of his new vice-captain. He blinks very slowly, seeming much older than he did when she last saw him. And it's clear that it is not his illness that is weighing down on him. "We will have a trial here in forty-eight hours. Ichimaru Gin has been apprehended."
the room becomes still in shocked silence, then explodes. This can't be possible. He should be dead. Can it truly be him? Kyoraku silences them all with a look. "The second squad will be escorting him back here within the hour and will hold him until the repentance cell is prepared for him. We will assemble a jury at noon today with the help of Central 46. All of you are expected to attend the selection ceremony. Dismissed."
It's strange to hear such authority coming from him, but no one dares question it. Everyone turns and filters toward the door.
Including Rukia, who feels the flush coming to her cheeks. Ukitake will want to talk to her later. As will her brother. And Renji is looking at her, eyes bright and intense. He can't say a word, of course. Not right now, with her brother somewhere undoubtedly close by.
She can only look back at him and pray he can't see that the bottom has dropped out of her stomach.